An update from the Glioblastoma Research Team

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Professor Michael Jenkinson (left) and Dr Michael Cearns

Since its launch last year, and thanks to the incredible support of our donors, the Glioblastoma Fund campaign has raised over £195,000. Following the appointment of Dr Michael Cearns, as the new Kevin O'Riordan Brain Tumour Clinical PhD Research Fellow in November, donations have helped to ensure that this life-changing research can continue.

Donors have been fundraising across the world, including Kathryn Wright who, along with her friends, took part in a colour run in November 2022 in memory of her father. In October 2022 Eoin O'Grady ran the Auckland marathon in memory of Kevin O'Riordan, and Kathryn Stuart and her daughters, along with friends, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in September 2022 in memory of Ian Stuart.

Dr Michael Cearns, the Kevin O’Riordan PhD Fellow, recently announced that his team “are well underway in establishing our cutting-edge research programme studying the immune response in glioblastoma.” 

The team uses a technique called ‘multiplex immunofluorescence’. This allows them to study glioblastoma by applying fluorescent markers to many different cell types and imaging the tumour at high magnification. This method is capable of generating breakthroughs in their understanding of how different types of cell are distributed within a tumour, signal to other cells, and physically interact. The team are building a panel of 46 markers, which represents the largest panel ever applied to brain tumours using this technique, allowing them to better understand the biology of patients with glioblastoma who respond to treatment.

The second part of their work is called Navigate-GBM, aiming to understand how the tumour immune response varies in different parts of the tumour.  Using the Walton Centre’s previously established biobank, the team are taking image-guided surgical samples from different regions of the same tumour during that standard surgical resection, as well as blood samples around the time of the operation.

The team have studied two patients so far and will be able to isolate the immune cells from these tumours and sequence their genetic signature.  If the researchers can identify the proteins that immune cells are able to respond to in these tumours, this will pave the way for finding a combination of treatments that prolongs patients’ lives, or a new treatment such as a cancer vaccine.

On behalf of Dr Cearns and the team, we would like thank everyone who has supported their research. The team "are optimistic about this work and very grateful to all our sponsors and, most of all, our patients, for allowing this research to take place." 

The fund is now only £55,000 away from its target, if you would like to donate please visit here.